Movie Details

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp), a man unjustly sent to prison, vows revenge not only for the cruel punishment but for the devastating consequences of what happened to his wife and daughter. When he returns to reopen his barber shop, he becomes the Demon Barber of Fleet Street who slits the throats of his customers and use their bodies to be made into meat pies by his amorous accomplice, Mrs Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter). Alan Rickman plays the evil Judge Turpin who sent him unfairly to prison, withe Timothy Spall is the Judge`s wicked associate Beadle Bamford. Sacha Baron Cohen is a rival barber, the flamboyant Signor Adolfo Pirelli, and Christopher Lee takes on the role of the gentleman ghost.

Language: English
Subtitle: NA
Classification: M18
Release Date: 31 Jan 2008
Genre: Musical / Thriller
Running Time: 1 Hour 57 Minutes
Distributor: WARNER BROS
Cast: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Timothy Spall
Director:
Format: NA

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Review
Writer: Lim Chang Moh

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Watch this if you liked: "Edward Scissorhands", "Corpse Bride" and "Sleepy Hollow"

Johnny Depp goes from Edward Scissorhands to 'Sweeney Razorhands' in Tim Burton's dark and dank adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's musical about the notorious Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The role requires Depp to sing and he rises to the occasion with his harsh and husky voice that helps to make us empathise with his character, despite him being a mass murderer bent on giving his clients 'the closest shave'.

The opening credits, with generous sprays of blood on the screen, give us an idea of what we are in for from Burton's bloodiest production yet, and the opening song, 'No Place Like London' indicates that we are not to expect the usual tour of London's West End theatres. Indeed, this may be the most macabre and goriest musical we have ever seen...

A voiceover narrates the background of the Demon Barber: Benjamin Barker (Depp) leads a happy life with his beautiful wife and baby daughter. An envious and vile Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman), who has lustful designs on Barker's wife (Laura Michelle Kelly), sends Barker to jail in Australia on trumped up charges. Years later, upon his release, Barker returns to London as Sweeney Todd and learns that his wife is dead and his daughter Johanna (Jayne Wisener) is Turpin's ward.

Sweeney swears revenge. Teaming up with Mrs Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), he opens his barbershop on the floor above Lovett's meat pie deli - and provides what we may call a highly successful co-operative business supplying the main ingredients for her pies.

The subplots deal mainly with children, often seen as the main victims of squalid London during the days of Industralisation. One involves Anthony Hope (Jamie Campbell Bower), Sweeney's young shipmate who happens to fall in love with Johanna and plans to run away with her. The other is Toby (Ed Sanders), the assistant of showman barber Adolfo Pirelli (Sacha Baron Cohen) who becomes the first 'client' of Sweeney Todd. When Toby is hired by Lovett as her errand boy, he becomes a potential witness to the mass murders and crimes of cannibalism.

Originally composed for the stage, Sondheim's songs are not the catchy types like those of "Chicago" or "Dream Girls". You won't walk away humming the tunes, but they have an inherent grisliness and a whimsical wit that sometimes border on comedy. The crowd-pleasing number, 'The Ballad Of Sweeney Todd', has been pared away by Burton, probably to maintain the diabolical coherence of the movie which moves at a rather fast pace (even for a two-hour film).

The cast is remarkable. Throughout the movie, we never stop caring for Depp's character or Bonham Carter's. As the 'practical' Nellie Lovett, her view is that Sweeney's victims "will never be missed". Alas, Bonham Carter is no Sarah Brightman and her songs are there to lend meaning rather than melody. Rickman gives a well-balanced performance as the deceitful judge, supported with oomph by Timothy Spall as his assistant, Beady Bamford. If there is a casting flaw, it may be that of Miss Wisener who appears more of a wallflower than an excited girl in love.

The legend of Sweeney Todd is a fable about a world where one has to take justice into one's own hands. There had been many movie renditions of the legend, the more recent being the 2006 BBC production starring Ray Winstone. However, even having watched that gruesome film, there are still many surprises and twists in Burton's musical. After all, Burton has always been known for dishing out 'perverse fun', only that he is now doing it to music.

Cinema Online, 23 September 2008
   
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Classification
Effective 15 July 2011
G - Suitable for all ages
PG - Suitable for all ages, but parents should provide guidance to their young
PG13 - Suitable for persons aged 13 and above, but parental guidance is advised for children below 13
NC16 - Suitable for persons aged 16 years and above
M18 - Suitable for persons aged 18 years and above
R21 - Restricted to persons aged 21 and above only
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